Isaiah Rice was born in 1849 in Greene County. His parents were Reuben and Caroline Rice. From the time of his birth through 1862, Isaiah along with his mother Caroline and sister Susan were enslaved on the Henry McKinley plantation in NW Greene County. At that time, his father Ruben was an enslaved laborer on the nearby Rice Plantation in southern Polk County. The 1860 Federal Slave Census data for Henry McKinley likely documents Isaiah as a black male age 10 or black male age 12. After Henry McKinley's death in 1862, his human chattel were sold to pay off debts, but the specifics of the sale of Isaiah are unknown. In 1865, Caroline married Ruben. The 1870 census shows the family of four living in Jackson Township, Polk County, with "Isah" listed as a 20-year-old Black farmer.
On May 17, 1880, Isaiah married Ellen F. Hannah at the Greene County home of James Carter. Isaiah and Ellen lived in the Ash Grove area and Isaiah worked as a farm laborer. The couple soon had a son, Edward, who lived into adulthood, and a second child who died before 1900. In that year, the Rice family was living on East Main Street in Ash Grove, and Isaiah was working as a day laborer. Ellen apparently died in the early 1900s, as the 1910 census indicates that Isaiah was living in Ash Grove with a second wife, Jane, and working as a laborer at odd jobs. The census found Isaiah once more, days before his death, in 1920. He was living on the outskirts of Ash Grove with his wife. Isaiah was not working at the time and Jane was employed as a laundress at the nearby Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company. Isaiah died on January 17, 1920. According to Isaiah's death certificate, his occupation was "farmer", and the cause of death was "chronic rheumatism." The death certificate names the Ash Grove "negro cemetery" - the Berry Cemetery - as the place of burial (Russel 2012).
Clarence Brewer, the great great nephew of Isaiah Rice, performs at the 2017 dedication of the new monument for those in unmarked graves at the Berry Cemetery.
Clarence Brewer ("King Clarentz") performs at MIssouri State University's Ozark Heritage Festival in 2013. Mr. Brewer is the great great nephew of Isaiah Rice,
Berry Family, Ash Grove, MO; Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum; Dept. of Sociology, Anthropology, and Gerontology, Reynolds College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, Missouri State University